The real question for Jays fans is this: are the 2015 Jays going to be like the 1992 Jays, or like the 1992 Tigers?
It’s fairly obvious by now that this year’s Jays are going to score a boatload of runs, or possibly even two boatloads. The Jays lead the American League in runs scored after one month, despite the following:
- Jose Bautista hit only .164 (though with walks and some power, mostly against Baltimore pitchers who tried to show him up or throw at him).
- Edwin Encarnacion hit .205 with 4 home runs and only 1 double.
- Russell Martin started the season in the mother of all slumps as he attempted to justify his free agent signing all at once. He’s rebounded since – he has a .367 OBP – but his batting average is still below .200.
- Dalton Pompey hasn’t done much.
- Jose Reyes got hurt yet again.
However, the pitching has been less than wonderful. The Jays’ pitchers have a team ERA of 4.78, tied for second-last with Baltimore. The ERAs of the starters are 3.86 (Norris), 4.94 (Buehrle), 5.03 (Sanchez), 5.23 (Dickey) and 6.67 (Hutchison), and the bullpen has been inconsistent at times. This is why the Jays finished the month one game under .500.
I was listening to last night’s game on the radio, and the Jays’ broadcasters went on at great length about how the most successful teams are the teams with the best pitching. However, a team doesn’t always have to have the best pitching to win. Consider the 1992 Jays: they had only league-average pitching. Their staff ERA was 3.91, compared to a league average of 3.94. But they finished second in the league in runs scored, obliterating opponents with their bats, and they became World Series champions.
However, having a good offense isn’t enough. The 1992 Jays had only the second-best offense in the league. The best was the 1992 Tigers, who scored 791 runs (the Jays had 780). However, the Tigers were last in the league in team ERA, and wound up finishing 75-87.
So the question for this year is: can the Jays’ pitching reach league average? If it can, they might be able to bring an end to Toronto’s postseason dry spell. If they can’t, the Jays will finish out of contention, and everybody will likely get fired when Beeston’s replacement is hired in the off-season. I’m not optimistic about the pitching, so I expect the latter outcome, but I’d be happy to be proven wrong.